• University Begins Reporting All P2P Users to the Police

    Georgia’s Valdosta State University has updated its network with software that can pinpoint students who use P2P software. The university is committed to stop file-sharing on its network even if that results in prison sentences for students. Offenders will be disciplined by the school and then handed over to the police, the university has announced.

    In recent years, US colleges and universities have undertaken measures to reduce piracy, and go after students who use file-sharing networks to share copyrighted files.
    In July, the US put into effect a new requirement for colleges and universities to stop illicit file-sharing on their networks. This legislation puts defiant schools at risk of losing federal funding if they don’t do enough to stop illicit file-sharers on their campus.
    Schools across the country responded appropriately to the new rules and some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to install anti-file-sharing systems on their network. This week, Valdosta State University (VSU) upgraded theirs. According to the university it can now identify students who use P2P software, and those who are caught will be reported to the police.
    “Once individuals are identified, VSU hands responsibility over to police. Users can face felony punishments, including a possible prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 per offense,” reports the student newspaper.
    The new system is undoubtedly going to cause collateral damage, since an effective P2P detection tool will be unable to make a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate use of P2P software. This means that booting up your BitTorrent client to download free films such as Snowblind will result in a referral to the police station.
    To some these measures may appear as a witch-hunt against students using P2P software, but Joe Newton, VSU Director of Information Technology, sees it as a form of education.
    “As an institution of higher learning, we will take an educational approach to the problem and use approved campus procedures to reach appropriate resolutions,” he said.
    Combating piracy is not a new endeavor for the Georgia university. VSU already had anti-piracy tracking tools installed, but with the old system it was not possible to identify individual users. In addition, the old system was increasingly being bypassed by certain branches of P2P software.
    “Over this past summer, ‘Ares’, a new P2P program/protocol became popular among college students. Ares allows its users to evade school network controls that limit P2P use,” it was reported.
    Those who are ‘educated’ on P2P technologies do of course know that this applicationis hardly new. In fact, the first version was released back in 2002, long before BitTorrent clients such as uTorrent and Vuze emerged.
    It seems that VSU’s harsh talk is part of a scare campaign to prohibit students from using P2P software. We doubt that the police will be involved at all, and if they are it seems unlikely that they will take any form of action without a complaint from a rightsholder.

    Source: TorrentFreak